The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 10, 2008

Hundreds of jobs may be heading to Conneaut

Two firms announce interest in city


Ward 4 Councilman Tony Julio said he has spoken to Ratcliffe previously about the project.

Moments later, council heard from Charles Rowe Jr. of IRG Capital Group of Wadsworth. Rowe said he represents investors poised to acquire Tartan Yacht, which operates the Novis Marine business in Conneaut, and a Rhode Island boat-building business.

The group plans to bring the Rhode Island business and its 100 jobs to a site in Ohio. Conneaut is a strong contender, given the experience of the Novis workers, but a pending foreclosure action brought by the city "clouds the future" of the Novis building, Rowe said.

The investors are asking council's help to "bring some quick resolution (to the matter) so they can move forward with the transaction," Rowe said.

"They can go forward with their business plan if the uncertainties are removed," he said.

The city is pursuing foreclosure on the owners of the Novis building, Broad and Jackson LLC, to recoup some of the $283,000 spent to demolish the old Astatic building a few years ago.

Council was cordial but cautious. Ward 3 Councilman Greg Mooney said the city needs assurances the investors behind the plan aren't the same people involved in Broad and Jackson.

Rowe said he understood council's hesitation and felt future dialog would be helpful. "We would be willing to craft a certain set of assurances through discussions that would give both sides comfort, he said.

The investors would like to move on the Rhode Island/Tartan takeover by the end of the year, Rowe said.

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